Running in Sept and Oct

Back in July I ran the KACR 145 and was doing quite well until, at mile 90 things went wrong and I pulled out of the race. following that I had a rest a made an effort to try and recover properly. I took all of August pretty easy and signed up to The Devil Run a 15k cross country around the Devil’s Punchbowl near Guildford. The rest had clearly helped as I finished 7th in a time of 1h 17m. Getting in some steady training runs I booked Abington 10k where I got my PB last year. A fairly flat and fast course again I thought i’d have a go at getting near the 41m 11s PB. A good effort but finished in 41m 54s so not quite there and not enough work on the shorter runs.

Then I had 3 weeks to get ready for a 1 week block of 3 marathons and a 30 mile ultra. I’ve not done a double weekend before and this was now going to be my first double double! I had Phoenix Running Back to the Future run on 21st October which was a 6 hour timed event. Myself and club friend Alan Jones ran 8 laps to make it a marathon and knowing we both had Chelmsford marathon the day after we took it fairly easy finishing in 4h 47m.

On the 22nd October I had Chelmsford marathon to run. I was a little sore but ok considering the marathon the day before. Last year when I ran Chelmsford I blew up pretty badly and finished in something lie 4h 26m so the aim was to at least better that. Storm Brian was blowing through and as well as being cold there was a terrible headwind for most of the course. I surprised myself catching up with the 3.45 pacer and decided to reign it in a bit. By mile 16 I wasn’t feeling great and by mile 19 stopped for a toilet break. After setting off again I felt awesome! nothing hurt and I picked up the pace where the last 7 miles were all sub 8 minute miles and finished in 3h 45m.

I took the following week off thinking the miles would not benefit me and I was only risking injury before another double weekend.

On October 28th it was time for Beachy Head marathon. Beachy Head has got a reputation as being scenic but extremely tough! I planned again to take this fairly easy wanting to run well at Stort 30. We were lucky with the weather and the views were utterly stunning!! I had an early start being up at 3am for the drive down to Eastbourne and after parking and a short wait registered and waited for friends to turn up. There ended being quite a few people. A group from Twitter JK, Clare, Darren, Michael, Sarah, Deborah, Mark, Chris and bumped into a number of other friends from other clubs and who I’ve seen at various races.

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The start was brutal having to walk up the steep hill straight away but it eased up enough eventually to get a jog going. The entire route being one extreme to the other of jogging downhill followed by pretty steep inclines. After a great day out this is a race I will definitely return to. Having taken it steady I finished in 5h 26m and only had to worry about the 3 hour drive home and wonder how sore I would be in the morning.

October 29th and it was Stort 30 day. The 4th time I have done this race improving every time I have run it. 2013 – 6h, 2014 – 5h 31m, 2016 – 4h 51m   I was hoping to improve again. The legs were really sore and I was stretching and light jogging trying to get them to ease up a bit. I thought If I ran a steady 8m 30s a mile I should be fairly comfortable and still PB. The first few miles are a bit muddy, stony and rutted in spots but I had settled into 7m 30s per mile..too fast. I kept trying to ease up but every time I checked the average pace was still 7m 30s per mile! I made it to half way in super quick time and was running 3h 15m marathon pace…it soon began to tell. At mile 19 I had my first twinge of cramp in my quads which the hills had destroyed the day before and all I could do was let it ease off before trying to get going again. Fighting on I didn’t want the PB to slip and it was a very up and down last 6 miles, cramp, walk, run etc. I had slipped from 12th down to where I thought I was somewhere between 40th and 50th. The end eventually came into sight and I finished in 4h 20m another 30 minute improvement and new PB and my finish position was 33rd, 6th in age category so no age prize this year. It was a very pleasing end to the race year. I’m now looking to get a coach and concentrate on improving my marathon time, initially sub 3h 30m target and then possibly pushing on to 3h 15m good for age

Going Big In 2016

Well, it’s been a while since posting a blog update again! But not without good reason. Heading towards the end of 2015 I had managed to get on top of injury problems in my left leg and only a matter of weeks after posting my last update in October 2015 I was struck down with an extremely bad chest infection that saw me sidelined from running for 7 weeks, having time off work and prescribed antibiotics as a precaution. The good side of that is my legs had a good rest. I had already made an application to the Grand Union Canal Race and was ill while waiting for the ballot result. I was fortunate (depending on your outlook!) to get drawn and will now be 1 of 150 people lining up to cover 145 miles on foot.

gucrmap (2) The slight panic was until I recovered from the chest infection I wasn’t able to train. Just before Christmas it had faded enough that I went out for some easy efforts, the worst had gone but my breathing was still difficult. In the New Year I was starting to feel stronger and the running was going well. I started to attend parkruns most Saturday mornings, they are a free, timed 5k run that take place nationwide in the UK and I use them as my speed session for the week. Especially as heading towards another ultra most runs are quite long and I try and make my standard run 10 miles.

As a build up for the GUCR I have entered some other races. The Cambridge Boundary Run  takes place on the 6th March and is a mixed surface marathon in the City of Cambridge. some eagle eyed blog readers may have noticed that this is only 1 week before my Bath half marathon run on the 13th March. I am not planning on running the Boundary race at a fast pace, it is purely a training run, miles in the legs and time on my feet in preparation for the GUCR. The Bath half a week later is a fast course and it would be nice if I could push my current PB from 1h 32m 27s down to the 1h 30m mark. I’m not currently sure if I can do it as i’ve not been doing much speed training but the time of 1h 30m would make being placed nearer the front of future races far more likely.

After the Bath half I may do the Oakley 20 race but have not yet signed up. This is a good last long run to have before some of the UK’s best spring marathons including London, Manchester and Brighton that I am running on 17th April. A good resource for UK marathons is Marathon Runners Diary especially useful if you’re after a 100 Marathon Club membership! My current marathon PB is at 3h 59m, my half marathon as stated above is 1h 32m and my 10k is 41m 11s. Using these times and a few different race calculators available on the web my marathon prediction time is coming out between 3h 12m and 3h 15m. I have no idea how I could bridge that gap, I will be aiming for a PB at Brighton but but I will be happy with an improvement of between 5 and 10 minutes let alone 40 minutes!

Brighton may be my last race before the GUCR. The GUCR takes place on the late May Bank Holiday weekend 28th May so there is a possible gap to enter a 40 or 50 mile race just as a little warm up and kit test for the GUCR but it depends if there is a race available that coincides with my time off from work. If I don’t do a race I will have a long day out on my own. I also plan on having a couple of day trips to Wolverton on the edge of Milton Keynes and having some runs along the route. Apart from the fact Wolverton has a train station right on the river and I am able to get there and back quite easily, it will also be a section of the run that will be dark on race weekend.

On the whole things are moving along nicely, the last club cross country of the season is taking place this Sunday 28th February and I continue to get along to club evenings when time off from work allows.

I’ve Been Running Not Blogging

I’ve not posted a blog about my running, training or any running events for almost 6 months now. After the Flitch Way Marathon I carried on with my training and then entered the London 12 hour Enduro in June. Part of the reason I blog about my running is self motivation and a way of holding myself accountable and disciplined with my running as well as, I hope, inspiring and motivating others. I began running 3 1/2 years ago after 3 friends passed away within 6 months, one being my best friend who I spent the first 26 years of my life doing everything with. Running helped me with my grief and focused my thoughts and energy..In June, In the darkness of night somewhere on Wimbledon common In the middle of the London 12 hour Enduro I was at last at peace with their passing and my own grief, some 3 years down the line. In an emotional moment I called my wife and told her I didn’t need to punish myself running ultras and I was ready to throw it in for the night and come home. I didn’t. After I hung up I forged on feeling a sense of peace I hadn’t felt for a long time. I felt good again, free and my waning energy began to return. By the end of the night I had completed 54 miles in 11 hours 36 minutes and finished in 8th. I didn’t feel the need to tell people about it or blog about it and share the experience. It seemed for me an almost too personal a moment of closure to put in to print.

Since then I have changed to doing shorter and faster runs. I have started to attend Parkruns on a regular basis, I’ve changed up my diet a little again this time too a zero added sugar, the biscuits and cakes have gone! My bodyfat has dropped from 30% to 19% and there is just a portion  of fat around my waist that is preventing me from having abs again! And since July I have had 3 new PB’s and begun to run sub 20 minute 5k’s for the first time since my teens. My 5k PB is now 19m 32s, 10k PB is 41m 11s and half marathon PB is at 1h 32m 27s. I put most of this down to the regular parkruns. Longer term I am aiming at Brighton Marathon to complete the new set of PB’s.

 

I have been doing plenty of runs and events  I could have blogged about but haven’t, maybe it’s time to get back letting people know about my experiences again. The moral of the last 6 months has been that actions speak louder than words, I’ve been working on all aspects to improve. I’m ready again to add some occasional words for others enjoyment and motivation.

 

 

 

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Flitch Way Spring Marathon 2015

Having received my new work roster for the rest of the year I have now been able to look through and pencil in possible races for the year. After finishing Paris I had no particular races in mind and ran Birchanger 10k a couple of weeks back. Knowing I had Sunday 17th May free I had a look at what races were available. There was Great Baddow 10 mile, Wimpole 10k, Richmond Marathon and the Flitch Way Marathon. I opted for the Flitch Way Marathon. The Flitch Way Marathon is one of Challenge Running’s many races, this is now the fourth of Lindley’s races I have taken part in.

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The Flitch Way is now a footpath that follows the route of an old railway line that used to run from the town of Bishops Stortford to Braintree but was removed in 1969 under the Beeching cuts. It is predominantly flat if a little soft under foot in places, to the extent that one section runs on a wooden walk way through the worst of the boggy patches. The Flitch way Marathon route starts in Great Notley Country Park, heads out along the Flitch Way towards Takeley for 13 miles and then back to finish at the top of a steep hill in the park as seen below.

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 As I hadn’t trained I planned on taking the run easy and treating it as a training run. The weather was as perfect as it could have been for running and with the Flitch Way bordered by hedge row and trees it was very shady and cool to run along. I was dropped off at the start around 9am and saw Lindley the race director who pointed me up to the race HQ. After collecting my number and storing my bag I chatted to some of the other runners, some of whom I had met before, others I hadn’t. I had initially told my running friend Gin Craig I was going to run with her as I reckoned I was only going to run between 4 hours 30 minutes and 5 hours. After we set off that barely lasted 1/2 a mile, the pace was 9m 25s per mile and I felt comfortable enough to run a bit stronger than that.

 After winding our way out of the park and heading onto the track itself we crossed a road. A short distance on runners were greeted by a cafe set at one of the old stations, Rayne,  complete with an old railway carriage.

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 The route then continued along a firm packed track. Being a clear warm day the track was quite busy with family walkers and cyclists. The route headed toward the town of Great Dunmow. I had quickened my pace a touch too much and was at 8 minutes 15 seconds per mile and slowed a little to someone who was close by and holding a comfortable pace. It turned out to be Jaime Neill who is an online acquaintance from the Facebook page Run 1000. He was holding a very steady 8 minutes 30 seconds per mile so I decided to run and chat with him. What had started as a day off and taking part for the fun of it was now turning in to a run that was currently better than PB pace! I was mindful to make good use of all the aid stations along the way, the first of which was manned by Rich Cranswick whom I’d met at the SVP last year. At Dunmow the route deviates very briefly through part of the town then linking back up with the Flitch Way route. The ground in parts along here was very soft and quite wet but I managed fine with my road shoes and stayed up right! I always use Nike+ app on my phone when running as it gives an audible pace every 0.5 mile which I like and lets me know if I’m working too hard or even not hard enough. The pacing was still very steady at 8m 30s a mile. Heading ever closer to the turn around point I was hoping I wouldn’t hit any type of problems until well after the 20 mile mark. wanting to get a good amount of drink onboard at the half way point I told Jaime I was going to push ahead to give myself a couple of minutes to stop. The legs were still felling strong despite not having a long run further than 13.5 miles since Paris Marathon.

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 After the half way point there started to be more a bit more of a difference in pacing, sometimes catching people, sometimes being over taken. As I headed back towards the town of Dunmow I had to take a left hand turn through a hedge and into the industrial estate. I missed the turning and went straight on.  A runner behind me followed, we both hadn’t gone far and I started to question it, it didn’t look right. I stopped, he carried on. I back tracked and bumped into another runner also heading along the same path. I told him I thought it was wrong and after going back a few hundred yards saw the gap we should of turned through. I’ve no idea where the other runner went or if he’s even finished yet! My legs had started to feel things now and were getting tired. The new runner I was now with was David Rogers. He had initially been ahead of me before slowing enough that I could catch and over take him before meeting up again when I made the mistake. Both tiring we decide to stick together and pace each other back to the finish. My pace was now fading away quite badly and the chance of a PB had gone but I was still on for a strong run. The finish of the marathon is at the top of a steep hill which has a large sculpture on it, upon touching the sculpture you have finished the race.

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 Having been running together for 3 or 4 miles I suggested to David that we should race the hill up to the finish together. I’m not sure if he thought it was a good idea but he agreed anyway. We returned back passed the cafe at Rayne station, back on to the track and just had to get back down into the park. we could see the hill ahead with the bird sculpture on top, the bottom of the hill approached, a quick shake of the hands and a wish of good luck and I was gone!! I put my foot down and powered up the hill not looking back to see if David was hot on my heels. A sprint of the last 30 yards and I had finished another race. If counting ultras this was now my 7th race of marathon distance or greater. The organisation and marshalling is second to none at challenge running events and can’t recommend them highly enough. Get over to their website, have a look and sign up to one of their future races.

Initially I wasn’t really sure what my time was but found out via Lindley that it was 4h 14m 19s. 12 minutes faster than Paris marathon and only 14 minutes 26 seconds away from my PB so quite a good day. Now to just keep the miles up and stay injury free!

Position Race Number Forename Surname Gender Club Finish Time
1 11 Ian Coxall Male Ipswich Jaffa RC 03:16:22
2 15 Robert Dixon Male   03:29:27
3 23 sebastian parris Male barnes runners 03:30:09
4 33 Pete Jones Male   03:36:31
5 39 Nick Butcher Male Trent Park Runners 03:39:58
6 8 Charley Jenning Female   03:42:43
7 16 Vincenzo Arduino Male   03:43:12
8 12 David Ferris Male   03:43:45
9 53 Nigel Harrison Male Ipswich Jaffa 03:47:42
10 21 Paul Cross Male   03:53:52
11 1 Gary Paul Male   03:58:53
12 17 Adam Waller-Toyne Male   03:58:58
13 29 Mark Loftus Male   04:04:22
14 26 Jamie Neill Male Great Bentley Running Club 04:07:36
15 43 chris poynter Male   04:09:39
16 36 Alan Li Male adidas26s 04:11:09
17 38 Barry Taylor Male Saffron Striders RC 04:14:19
18 47 David Rogers Male Leigh on Sea Striders 04:14:28
19 13 Andrew Wilmott Male Halstead RRC 04:15:10
20 46 Damon Jackson Male   04:23:45
21 32 Karl Simon Male   04:24:15
22 31 Noel Bundy Male Mid Essex Casuals 04:24:16
23 34 Verne Barltrop Male 100 Marathon Club 04:24:19
24 40 Peter Maddison Male Crowborough Runners 04:24:20
25 19 Kim Freeman Female   04:27:49
26 2 Stuart Mellows Male WDAC 04:27:50
27 42 Duncan Anderson Male Bracknell Forest Runners 04:30:29
28 54 Daniel Smith Male Halstead RRC 04:38:07
29 20 Gin Craig Female Sudbury Joggers 04:42:33
30 10 Steve Morris Male Royston Runners 04:43:03
31 41 frances cooke Female 100 marathon club 04:47:17
32 55 Richard Weeks Male   04:47:43
33 25 Bob Parmenter Male 100 Marathon Club 04:49:31
34 51 Richard Townsend Male Saltwell Harriers 04:52:55
35 4 Sally Denwood Female   04:52:59
36 44 Sally Silver Female Canterbury Harriers 04:59:07
37 52 Steve Harvey Male   05:07:42
38 6 Emily Adams Female   05:09:53
39 7 Paul Adams Male   05:09:53
40 49 David Clare Male 100 Marathon Club 05:17:59
41 14 Jonathan Hyde Male   05:30:12
42 48 CAROLYN THOMSON EASTER Female TRA 05:30:52
43 56 Hazel Kurz Female 100Marathon Club 05:40:54
44 45 John Kew Male Bristol And District 05:49:03
45 5 Fran Thorne Female   05:59:23
46 35 Ric Falco Male   06:33:45
47 37 Des Connors Male   07:04:56
48 18 Dean Woodcock-davis Male   4:12:078
49 3 gemma colling Female   DNF
50 9 Benjamin Ficken Male Great Bentley Running Club DNF
51 22 Susan Foot Female North Herts RRC DNS
52 24 Cynthia Neldner Female RRC DNS
53 27 Chris Witmore Male Bungay Black Dog RC DNS
54 28 martin mead Male   DNS
55 30 Tracey Ranson Female Springfield Striders RC DNS
56 50 Tom Fairbrother Male Woodbridge Shufflers RC DNS

Still Making Progress With The Running

By the end of March I’d managed to shake off the injury I had been carrying for almost a year. The running was beginning to improve again, the distances getting longer and the pace slowly improving. One thing I have started doing the last few weeks is actually attending Park Runs. I registered about 2 years ago but had never been until 4 weeks ago! They are clearly a great training aid for a bit of speed because I ran a new PB of 20m 51s a couple of weeks back.

Out of nowhere the other week I pulled/tore a muscle along the front of my shin which made walking painful. I have no idea how it happened or why. went to bed fine and woke up in pain. So that put an end to running the Ashdon 10k. It healed up pretty quickly and I was back to the running with no problems a week later running the Birchanger 10k. That was a really tough run! some large hills on a 2 lap course meant my time on the face of it was quite slow at 46m 13s. but a flatter course would easily take 3 or 4 minutes off that time. That means my target of a sub 40 minute 10k is still some way off.

A bit of a last minute impulsive entry I have entered the Flitch Way Marathon. As it is local and I’m looking to increase my training mileage I’m just treating it as a training run. I am quite likely to enter the 12hr Enduro at Wimbledon in 4 weeks so this will be the start of the increase in distance that I need.

Here’s hoping I can now stay injury free!

My Running Plans As I Enter My 40th Year

So I just finished work at 01.15a.m. on Sunday June 15th, my 39th Birthday.  The last couple of years of running have seen improvements I wasn’t sure that I was still capable of. The willpower and discipline has been up and down and the results have been an equal rollercoaster. But, from where I started I have come along way. Initially running only a couple of miles at a time, eventually building to 10k. The time for that 10k then slowly dropping from 1 hour 5 minutes to 41 minutes 47 seconds over a 2 year period and the distance building up to marathon distance. Then I started to read and think about ultra running, went to Scotland and ran 35 miles and entered Challenge Running’s Stort 30 ultra.

I have recently been back to Scotland and covered the 35 mile run again. So, to what and where is my 40th year going to lead in respect to my running?

I generally do lots of treadmill speedwork over winter and try and aim for some spring PB’s. That is what happened this year setting new 10k, half marathon and marathon PB’s. As the year progresses I Like to do a mix of 10k’s and some long distance races and more recently looking at doing ultras. I have a loose plan mapped out for the rest of this year which is mainly concentrating on doing ultras. I have now signed up for the Saffron Trail ultra http://www.challenge-running.co.uk/saffron-trail/ a run from Southend on the Essex coast to Saffron Walden, approximately 70 miles. I have been out training over various sections of the route, the last two legs are my local home area so I run these parts quite regular already.

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Wanting to do more ultras some carry conditions that you need to have run a specified distance before entering. I need to complete the Saffron Trail before being able to move on to other challenges. My drawn out plan that fits time off, work and family commitments  is July 12th Saffron Trail – 70 miles,  16th August Stour Valley Path – 62 miles (2 UTMB points), September 27th Cotswold Way – 102 miles (4 UTMB points) and the Stort 30 on October 26th. When I gain the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc points this will qualify me to run the CCC  http://www.ultratrailmb.com/page/21/CCC%C2%AE.html next year. To run the UTMB you need to have gained 7 points from no more than 3 races so I won’t be able to qualify this year.

The CCC route    http://www.nexxtep.fr/UTMB/FR/Reperages/CCC/

So the year ahead is looking exciting and most definitely challenging. I just need to continue with long steady miles, including the odd 10k and club night for a bit of speed. And to try as best as possible to stay injury free. I have no idea how this will pan out as time goes on, I don’t know if I can get through 70 miles let alone 102 miles. What I do know is I will never find out thinking and fearing what may be sitting at home in a chair. I need to get out there and do it.

 

Feel the fear and do it anyway!!

The 8 S’s Of Running

SPEED

When we refer to speed as runners we are talking about our movement over distance and how much time that takes. So how can we improve our speed so it takes less time to cover a set distance. For shorter distances like 5 km or 10 km interval training is a great method to improve speed. This is running a set distance or amount of time at a high speed, anywhere between 85% and 100% of your personal effort. For increased distances like a half or full marathon we need endurance runs or tempo runs. As these suggest it is maintaining a higher speed over an increased distance or amount of time, somewhere around 75% to 85% of personal effort. You should be able to maintain this for about an hour, These runs will help your muscles deal with lactic acid as well. For any greater distances like ultras i would suggest HRM training, running very long and very slow keeping the heart rate around the 140 BPM mark. You will probably find you need lots of walking breaks to keep the heart rate in check

STAMINA

Stamina can be put into two types, cardio vascular and local muscular. Through a regular exercise regime your lungs and heart will strengthen and become more efficient in delivering oxygen to the muscles. A person can expect to gain a lower heart rate and increased stroke volume of the heart. Muscles will improve their ability to store glycogen to help with their endurance.

STRENGTH

There are three types of strength we use. Explosive strength where the energy is used in a single action like jumping or throwing. Dynamic strength, the ability of your muscles to support you over a long period of time. And static strength, the force that can be applied against a static object as in weightlifting. As runners it is dynamic strength that we are interested in. Bodyweight exercises are great for dynamic strength. Exercises such as squat jumps, bounding, hopping and various medicine ball exercises are all great at improving dynamic strength. Fitting in just one or two sessions a week will still be of a long term benefit.

SUPPLENESS

Suppleness refers to how we move and bend at the joints. Also referred to as flexibility, improving our suppleness can help reduce the risk of injury. There are a multitude of stretches possible. I have tried many and found a select few that work well for me hitting points of my muscles that tighten regularly. A favourite is the kneeling hip flexor stretch with raised foot. I find this really loosens my hips, helps with my gait and improves my speed.

SLEEP

Sleep is another very important factor in running. All of the bodies major repair is done during sleep. Getting 8 hours of sleep can help improve mood, concentration, improve athletic performance and you are less likely to get ill. I know how hard it is to get a decent amount of sleep as i am regularly home from work at midnight or later and then need to be up at 7am to help the chidren get ready for school and also to give myself time to run before starting work. So I am usually only getting 6 1/2 to 7 hours sleep and over a week i can end up getting quite exhausted. So I try as best as possible on days off to get to bed earlier.

SKILL

Learning and performing techniques will help improve your running. Pacing, you don’t have to take every run at race pace. It’s ok to slow down, long slow runs will improve your running just as much as short fast ones. Sprinting, adding short sharp bursts will activate different muscle fibres and will help in race situations when you need to increase the pace or overtake. Recovery is just as much a skill, cooling down and stretching will help with muscle repair and help make you stronger for your next run.

SPIRIT

Our state of mind when running or even thinking of going for a run plays a strong role in our participation, improvement and enjoyment of running. There are a lot of people that are very disciplined and rarely have any down periods with their running, I am not one of those! My moods towards running rise and fall constantly, especially this time of year when runs are gloomy, wet and cold. I personally help myself along by reading magazines, books and websites to keep my motivation up. I am also a running club member which is of a great help, we have regular social meet ups for meals that really helps boost mental positivity. Setting and hitting realistic targets is also a great way of staying positive.

SUSTENANCE

Diet is very important in not only improving health but also our running ability. Personally the way I tackle my food intake is to work out my calorific needs and then eat as much healthy whole non processed food to meet that need. I include oats, bananas, almond butter, rapeseed oil, nuts, seeds, dates, noodles, brown rice, avocados, beans, peppers and various other fruits and vegetables. Diet can not only help with energy levels but also improve cholesterol levels, lower the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

 

If you take the time to cover the 8 S’s you’ll be setting yourself a good regime for improving. Spring isn’t far away and the improvements will show when the warmer weather returns. Don’t give up, keep striving and you’ll reach your targets for 2014.

Taking The Time Out To Realize My Running Improvements When Things Aren’t So Good

Working Hard Since The Summer

After my trip to Scotland back in June i made the decision to enter an ultra event. I had a couple of 10k events in the summer and settled on doing the Stort 30 ultra at the end of October. From June onwards I started working hard on improving my mileage following a Hal Higdon marathon plan. It seemed to be ok at the time and I adapted it a little to fit work and family events along the way. In hindsight it wasn’t quite as good as I hoped for and that along with running in fairly new shoes turned the 30 miles in to a real hard slog.

The Mileage

I had been putting in 3 to 4 runs of between 5 and 8 miles during the week and then going for a long run on Sunday continually trying to increase over time. Starting out at 12 miles and then progressing toward 20 miles. I hit a 20 mile road run in August of 2 hours 48 minutes so was pleased with the progress at that point. I then reduced the Sunday miles slightly and began a build up back toward 20 miles for the ultra. 2 weeks before the ultra I hit another 20 miler out on the course in a time of 3 hours 28 minutes, which was to be expected being off road so I was still happy with that time. The ultra didn’t turn out as well as i had planned and afterwards adapted my running plan to include some treadmill speed sessions a couple of times a week and doing some longer miles more often. This was panning out well and after 3 weeks I was starting to see the speed out on the road improve. The long miles were also back at 20 miles and I was hoping to start increasing those runs toward marathon distance.

Illness Strikes

Then out of the blue I have been hit with flu. Without warning, went to bed feeling fine and woke up feeling as if I had been trampled on by an elephant! I’ve spent the last 10 days feeling pretty rough with all the usual sneezing, nose blowing, headache, sore throat and chesty cough. Not being able to get out and run and sitting around dosing up on Lemsips I feel as if all the hard work is leaching away and every day that passes is ending back to square 1 with all the hard work to be done all over again!

Mental Self Doubt

Anyone that knows me knows i’m not one for self pity. It serves an individual no good and is a dreadful mental state to be in. A self pitier makes excuses for themselves why things aren’t going well in their life and then expects everyone else to run around rectifying things and picking up the pieces!! No! Not for me.  BUT. I have been thinking about all the hard work that seems to be slipping away. I planned to nurse myself through Christmas and pick again in the New Year. Get back to my new plan that was starting to work and build it up again. Also thinking as to why when things are going so well there always seems to be a spanner lurking around the corner waiting to jump into the works. Starting to feel a little better, although still with blocked sinuses and a chesty cough, I thought I would turn out for the first cross country of the season. I was just planning on having a steady run around, getting some fresh air and hoping it would help me to feel a bit better. I ran the 4.96 miles in 40 minutes 18 seconds. 5 minutes and 40 seconds faster than last year! 

Learning To Worry Less And Hold Onto Positivity

So proof if it were needed that I needn’t have worried so much and been down about being knocked back by illness. If the hard work is put in in times of wellness it will be well retained in times of illness. As a runner I think I am used to being of a mindset that I need to be in a state of continual forward progress. Anything less and it feels like the wheels are falling off the wagon. My physical ability will slowly but surely continue to incrementally improve but I need to relax a little more when things don’t appear to be happening in times of illness and also injury. I may read some books on positive thinking during times of doubt or hardship. The physical side of running is good the mental side needs improvement.

For all those that are good enough to follow and read my blog this maybe my last post this side of Christmas. So just incase I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Have a great time with your families and friends and to some great running adventures in 2014.

 

 

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Do You Have Difficulty In Reaching Your Goals?

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Most people in life want to achieve something usually in order to attain a better life and social standing. People would like a better job, more money, bigger house and so on. As runners our usual common aims are to run further or faster but rarely with any of these things we would like to attain or achieve do we sit down and consciously write down the goal. Of the minority of people who do write down goals the majority of them fail to succeed in reaching that goal. Goals are usually, what do you want to be or want do you want to do goals. You may just want to be healthier or you may want to do a 10k, either way there are traps that need to be avoided if you want to succeed.

Fear of failure

A lot of people are afraid they will fail. They place far too higher standards for themselves and anything less than perfection is failure. They feel that anything less than their best will garner criticism and ridicule. It is fine to want to do well but be realistic with what can be achieved. As long as you gave your best at any given moment you have succeeded where others continue to fail. set smaller targets for speed or distance and every time you fail to make those gains don’t view it as a negative failure but as an opportunity to be stronger and come back another day and to try again. Believe in yourself and our abilities and the improvements will slowly but surely begin to follow.

Lack of motivation

Many people are happy with their lot in life, where they are and what they have. If you are happy and gain pleasure from going out for a gentle jog that may be all you want to do. To achieve something more there has to be a pay off which usually comes in the form of pleasure, enjoyment or pride. Let that goal fill you with thoughts of what it would be like to reach that point of running that 10k or getting through that marathon. Feel those feelings and let that help motivate you toward your goal. In moments when motivation seems to evade me watching running films or reading running books helps bring back that amazement of achieving a goal and helps restore my own motivation.

Feeling unworthy

Some people lack confidence in their abilities and as such can be prone to self sabotage. They don’t believe they are worthy of reaching a set goal and as such may neglect important parts of a training regime. As a race day approaches they may pull out all together because they know they haven’t put in the training, start and not finish or start and struggle badly to the end. Then be very self critical at the end of it all and enter a vicious cycle. Joining a club or running with others of similar ability is a great way to get support and encouragement and give a real boost to self confidence which is key to goal attainment.

Over analysis

Some people go over every fine detail about a set goal and the proceed to worry if one of those variables should change along the way. No matter how well you train you will never have all of the answers to the what ifs that spin around your head. All that is important is that you keep working toward your goal but accept you cannot know all the answers during the journey only after at the finish will you know where future improvements lie.

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Failing to plan

Maybe the most basic necessity of reaching a goal is having a clearly laid out plan. After all the old adage goes “failing to plan is planning to fail.”. Whatever your goal, having a written timetable of what needs to be done so you can incrementally work towards it  will help take a lot of the worry out of reaching the end goal. If a session is missed don’t worry either pick up where you left off or, if it’s not too demanding, try and pick up the schedule from where you should be. Either way having that plan is going to take away the guess work of what needs to be done.

Inactivity

Having your goal and sitting down to write your plan is great. Now you need to act upon it, sometimes the hardest part of any run is getting out of the door. Realise that more action in line with your plan will bring you toward your goal quicker, make it far more attainable and feel easier on the day.

Too many goals

Have you set too many goals and left yourself with too little time to realistically achieve them all? Short list one goal you are focused on and put your efforts in to working toward that alone. It is not to say ignore all the other goals but just to focus on one at a time. choose a goal that you feel is most attainable, tick that off and then move on to the next goal.

Lack of commitment

People can list various goals in their life but without true commitment they are rarely gained. A goal needs to be given your full effort if you want to make it succeed. As we find in life, the more you put in the more you will get out. Don’t be afraid of discomfort, tiredness or the need to go from running to walking mid way through a session. Commit to getting out the door and covering your planned distance, run, walk or crawl and over time you will notice improvement because of your commitment to the end goal.

Always remember you can achieve any goal you set yourself. Use the naysayers as fuel for your fire, commit and never give up, run, walk or crawl to the end goal! Take into account the above and incrementally you can work toward your goal. Be patient, work hard and it will happen.

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The Long Road To My First Ultra Event

Part of the Stort 30 route
Part of the Stort 30 route

 Like a lot of runners I have had a long term plan to run further and faster as time goes on. When I decided to get back to running as a serious hobby I was a 1 hour 10k runner which used to take some considerable effort and would leave me gasping. Through regular runs, dedication and joining a running club the distance has slowly increased and the times have come down.

 I have now gone and registered for he Stort 30 ultra, a 30 mile ultra in Hertfordshire along the river Stort tow path on October 27th 2013. This has been 18 months in the making with setbacks along the way. Through all of 2012 I was running 5 times a week with Tuesday and Saturday being my only rest days. This I now know in hindsight was too much and i kept getting colds and injuries. In 2013 I reduced my runs to 3 or 4 times a week, this did help a lot but I was booking lots of races on back to back weekends. The recovery periods weren’t really adequate, so again i was picking up injuries. I sought help for my injuries with www.thesportsinjuryclinic.org who gave me some useful information, exercises and causes. Through using better technique and sports massage it has really helped get on top of some of my problems and helped me progress further with my running.

My entire list of competitive events and times achieved that have led me to this point are below. As you can see the times slowly improve.

June 2012 10k Stansted 51 minutes 55 seconds

July 2012 10k Clapham 47 minutes 59 seconds

August 2012 10k BBC 45 minutes 59 seconds

September 2012 10k Saffron Walden 46 minutes 13 seconds

October 2012 10k Manuden 45 minutes 01 seconds

December 2012 Club Cross Country 5 mile 36 minutes 32 seconds

December 2012 Club Cross Country 5 mile 45 minutes 58 seconds

December 2012 10 mile Buntingford 1 hour 16 minutes 19 seconds

January 2013 Club Cross Country 5 mile 37 minutes 40 seconds

March 2013 Bath Half Marathon 1 hour 40 minutes 42 seconds – CURRENT PB

March 2013 Cambridge Half Marathon 1 hour 42 minutes

March 2013 10k Harlow 43 minutes 27 seconds – CURRENT PB

May 2013 10k Ashdon 47 minutes 44 seconds

May 2013 10k Clapham 44 minutes 49 seconds

May 2013 10k Henham 45 minutes 09 seconds

May 2013 10k Hatfield Broad Oak 44 minutes 10 seconds

July 2013 10k Lee Valley 45 minutes 43 seconds

I had been trying to improve the 10k time but as we went into May onwards the weather started to heat up and it affected me during races. It was during the summer I turned my attention to longer distances and other possible races to enter. I have applied for the London Marathon for which I should find out soon if I have been successful in the ballot or not. At the end of July I started on a marathon plan with a possible idea of entering an ultra in the Autumn of 2013 and then following training through winter for a spring marathon. This is the point I am now at. I have entered the Stort 30. I now have 7 weeks to go with my longest run in 5 weeks peaking at 25 miles before tapering for 2 weeks.

Other notable times and achievements from the last couple of months are below.

1k 3 minutes 4 seconds

1 mile 5 minues 36 seconds

5k 21 minutes 02 seconds

Thanks for taking a look and reading, other stats can be viewed at Nike+